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How do you choose great healthy baby snacks for your baby or toddler? Before you know it, your baby will begin the new adventure of solid foods. It’s a good idea to begin researching solid food recommendations now, before you reach that point. Many moms skip pureed baby foods altogether and just move straight into finger foods. I’m a big fan of that! Speaking of finger foods, let’s talk healthy baby snacks!
Cheerios have grown to become one of the most popular baby/toddler snack foods of all times. Why? I would guess mostly due to their mess-free convenience. They are also easy for baby to pick up and do not pose a choking hazard. Not only that, but they are marketed as healthy baby snacks. I am here to tell you otherwise.
Why should you find other healthy baby snacks to replace Cheerios or other O’s cereal? First of all, you should probably know that changing to organic cereal is not the answer here. Let me explain. I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but there are several reasons why I recommend finding other healthy baby snacks and avoiding dry cereals and other “baby puffs” all together. In fact, in my opinion, NOBODY should eat dry boxed cereal. (I know, hate me, right?) Here’s why….
Why I Don’t Recommend Cheerios or Other Grain-Based Snacks for Babies and Toddlers
1. The Dangers of Extrusion
All dry cereals are put through a manufacturing process called extrusion, which subjects the grains to extremely high temperatures and pressure. This gives cereal its familiar light, crispy texture. During the extrusion process, the proteins in the grains are completely denatured and the nutrients are destroyed. There are also concerns that the process so damages the grains, that they become toxic to the body. (source) Organic boxed cereals are actually the worst offenders, because the whole grains are higher in protein. Ouch!
2. Toxic Glyphosate
Another reason that I won’t recommend babies and toddlers eating dry cereals (like Cheerios) or other grain-based snacks, is that they can be very high in glyphosate residues. Glyphosate is the active ingredient found in Monsanto’s Round Up. The World Health Organization has recently placed glyphosate on a list of “probable carcinogens”. However, the FDA continues to allow its widespread use in the U.S.
Even if the manufacturer claims to be GMO-free, which is the case with Cheerios, they are still very high in glyphosate residues due to the fact that many grain crops in the United States are now sprayed with Round Up prior to harvest to help the crop dry up. (source) This allows for an earlier harvest and more money in the pockets of farmers. This process of spraying is known as desiccating. Organic farmers do not use this process, however, even organic fields are being contaminated by this herbicide as it is very prevalent in our environment. If you’d like to learn more about glyphosate and its danger to our food supply, I encourage you to read Dr. Mercola’s article here.
3. Indigestible Grains
The last reason that I don’t recommend Cheerios (or other dry cereal) for babies is that they all contain grains. Contrary to popular opinion, rice, oats and other grains are not the best first foods for babies. Why? Because they are very hard to digest. Many functional medicine doctors are now beginning to recommend other first food choices for babies.
You see grains, nuts, and legumes are seeds. All seeds are basically indigestible. They contain a substance called phytic acid, which protects them from rotting or being digested by animals. Even if they are consumed whole, they are known to completely pass through an animal’s digestive tract and be completely viable! This is a mechanism designed by Our Creator to protect the seed and allow the plant to reproduce. (source)
Traditional societies learned how to prepare these foods to deactivate the phytic acid and make them more digestible. Unfortunately, we have abandoned these wise practices in our modern food preparations, in order to save time and money in our fast-paced modern world. By properly soaking, sprouting, or fermenting grains, nuts and legumes, they are not only digestible, but far more nutritious! If you suffer from digestive disorders, food allergies or other chronic illness, I encourage you to learn more about this healthy traditional process. Start your research here.
Alternative Healthy Baby Snacks
So what do I recommend for a fast, convenient on-the go-baby/toddler snack? Look for a snack that is grain-free and soy-free for starters. It should also be what I call real food. That means food that is in its natural state and not processed (or very minimally processed.) It’s hard to find prepackaged baby snacks that fit this criteria. Most likely, you will need to make your own real food snack periodically and store in the freezer for that “grab n’ go” convenience. Here are a three very easy real food recipes to make your own grain-free baby snacks for convenient mess-free snacks on-the-go. Make an extra batch for the freezer when time is short!
No Time for DIY?
Try these convenient Real Food fruit and veggie snacks!
Have any great real food baby snack ideas? I’d love to hear about them!